SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Protesters who organized a Labor Day cookout in front of City Manager Debra Figone’s house Monday moved to the nearby Municipal Rose Garden after being cited by police.
Activists from the group Peninsula Direct Action, many of whom have ties to the Occupy movement, had planned to set up a barbeque on the sidewalk in front of Figone’s McDaniel Avenue home and provide free food to police, firefighters and other public safety workers.
But when eight activists arrived around 2 p.m., they found members of the media and police officers waiting for them, James Lee, one of the protesters and a spokesman for Peninsula Direct Action said.
“They said if we didn’t leave, we would be cited and then if we didn’t leave, we would be arrested,” Lee said. So, he said, they stayed until they got cited, then decided to move to the public garden about a block away.
Lee said that five of the protesters were cited for a municipal code that prohibits picketing in front of a citizen’s residence.
Officer Jose Garcia said that the code allows protesting in residential neighborhoods, but not protesting that targets a specific home.
To do that, protesters would need to be at least 300 feet from the targeted residence.
Garcia said he was not sure what fine the violation actually
incurs, but said that if the protesters had refused to sign their citations and been arrested, their bail would have been $1,000.
When asked about whether it presented an awkward situation to arrest protesters who said they had come to provide free food to police and protest cuts in public safety worker’s paychecks, Garcia said, “We have to remain professional…whether or not we agree with the protesters.”
Lee added that some of the police officers had suggested that the protesters move their cookout to the Rose Garden, which he took as a small sign of support from police.
“Maybe cops can’t stand next to us with their suit on but in
spirit they’re with us and we’re out here because they can’t be,” Lee said.
According to Lee, the protesters planned to remain in the Rose Garden until about 5 p.m. and that they plan to contact legal council to contest the fines.
(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed)